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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President, Nation Mourn Sept. 11

Hours before the country paused to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks, President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday to express his condolences and support.

Putin was the first world leader to call Bush after the attacks last year.

"I wanted specially to speak with you today," Putin said in the early morning call from Sochi, where he is on vacation.

"I know you have a tough day ahead of you. I want to express not only sympathy but also the support of the Russian people for the American people," Putin said in televised remarks.

Putin used the informal ty form of the word "you," underscoring the two leaders' friendly relationship.

"In Russia, it is said that time heals all things," Putin said. "But there are things that we cannot and must not forget."

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said Wednesday that Putin's telephone call on Sept. 11 last year laid the foundation for closer ties between the two countries. "The past 12 months have demonstrated the sincerity of this grief and the power of this support," he said at the Library of Foreign Languages, referring indirectly to Russia's role in the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan.

In all of his many speeches Wednesday, Vershbow emphasized that terrorist attacks on U.S. targets were directed not only against the United States but against the entire world.

"Among the innocent victims of the attacks ... were citizens of 90 countries, including Russia," Vershbow said after an Orthodox memorial service at St. Catherine's Church. "We should not forget about the victims of terrorist acts outside the U.S., including the terrorist acts in Moscow, Buinaksk and Volgodonsk."

To commemorate the victims of terrorist acts in Russia, Vershbow laid a wreath at the underpass under Pushkin Square where a blast on Aug. 8, 2000, claimed 13 lives and injured 113.

Memorial services were held across Russia by different faiths. Hundreds of St. Petersburgers and foreigners attended a memorial service in the city's main Kazan Cathedral.

At Moscow's St. Catherine's Church, Orthodox clergy prayed in English "for the repose of the souls of the servants of God, the innocent victims of the terrorist acts in the United States of America." At the end of the service, girls from an orphanage in Maloyaroslavets sang "Eternal Memory," an Orthodox prayer, and gave white carnations to Vershbow and American Orthodox priest Archimandrite Zacchaeus Wood.

"In Christ, there is neither American nor Russian," General Alexander Kotelkin said at the ceremony, paraphrasing the apostle Paul. "In Christ, all of us are brothers and sisters."

Britain's Prince Michael of Kent also attended the service. His spokesman said he happened to be in Moscow and considered it his duty to come.

At the U.S. ambassador's Spaso House residence, politicians and clergymen of various religions were invited for an afternoon memorial ceremony. The guests stood to hear a prayer by the Reverend John Calhoun of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy. Hymns were sung by Jewish and Christian male choirs, and prominent jazzman Alexei Kozlov played saxophone.

"The traditional month of harvest became the month of sorrow and terror, three years ago in Moscow, one year ago in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania," Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said, addressing the guests in English. "But this is also a day to show reserve and vigilance, to make an enlightened solidarity a rallying point. Together, we are certain we will prevail."

Russian television devoted most broadcasts to the events of Sept. 11 last year, showing documentaries and leading the news with the reports of ceremonies in New York.

An orchestra played Mozart's "Requiem" on Wednesday evening at the Moscow Conservatory, part of a tribute in which the requiem was played across the world.

Yelena Sorokina, who owned one of the kiosks in the Pushkin Square underpass in 2000, said she was reminded of the mark that the explosion there had left on her life. "I think it is the duty of every human being to imagine himself in the position of those who suffer," she said. "That's what makes us human."